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T. E. Lawrence to R. D. Blumenfeld

[Annotations on a press-cutting from the Daily Express. The annotations have been numbered here for clarity.]




There is a glamour attached to the name of Colonel T. E. Lawrence, 'the uncrowned King of Arabia', which many ambitious men must envy.1

There was glamour long before he became Aircraftsman Shaw, and it has been multiplied a thousand-fold2 since his disappearance from the world of his intellectual equals.3

1. Let 'em have it.

2. Only 1000 fold? Dear me. Rotten effort.

3. If I have a world of intellectual equals? What a gang we'd look.

A correspondent4 sends me some interesting details concerning the existence of this boyish looking blue eyed dreamer.5 He has been at the air depot near Karachi for the last twelve months and seems perfectly happy.6 The other men like him because he has no 'side'7 and do not resent his refusal to accompany them on occasional jaunts to Karachi

4. !

5. I don't think.

6. A 'profound meditation,' that.

7. If I had any side, they would knock off what they call my 'block'. Sides are very expensive and dangerous parts, for lightweights.


Karachi he never visits. Instead, he goes, when off duty, to the edge of the desert8 with a pocket full of cigarettes purchased out of his daily pay of a few shillings.9
There he chats with the villagers,10 and joins in their profound Eastern meditations.

8. 'edge of the desert'. Man we're in the middle of it, anyway!

9. Only unluckily I have never smoked! 3 shillings is a few, perhaps: too few, if so.

10. Knowing not one word of any Indian language; but I suppose they talk English: if there is a village. I haven't seen one.
Punk, that is. Villagers in all countries have their thoughts centering on those parts of their bodies which lie, as the Arabs say, between the navel and the knee. Food and sex: and I don't meditate, not even profoundly, about either.

- - -

Dear Blumenfeld,

Tell your bright young thing that it's a rotten effort. I could do better than that in my sleep. I hope he'll be content, however, to forget it. I'll promise, in return, not to write fancies about him.>

India, or Karachi at any rate, is a dust-heap. For Karachi read 'Drigh Road' seven miles outside the town, where our aerodrome lies. I have not been outside the camp since I got here, so the dimensions of the dust heap, to which (by which, and at which) I swear, are one mile by one mile and a quarter. If it's a fair sample of India, then so much the better is England.

The climate is astonishing. Never hot enough for a sun-helmet, never cool enough for an overcoat. If it is ever brought near England by an air service, the poor old Riviera will pack up. Twelve months of an Italianate spring!

Not being very fond of Italy I'll relish my life sentence to England, when the good gods give it me in 1931. Indeed, it will be very good. I don't care if it snows and rains and floods and freezes.

If anybody else writes a book about me I'll kill him, painlessly and naturally, but very quickly. Nor will I ever write another book about myself. That Revolt made £17,000 by the way, for the royalty owner. who wasn't me! Good going. It's dead now.

Please remind your wolves, on the 1st of each year, that 'Colonel Lawrence' is on the Daily Express Black List, and never to be mentioned: and then you may believe me.

Your very sincere

T. E. Shaw

Source: DG 572-4
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 18 February 2006

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